As we made our way up the valley towards Annapurna Base Camp, my cast of recurring characters had narrowed to no more than a dozen. I was beginning to get to know them all, as we struggled upwards, in mutual agony and awe.
Although we had encountered Linjon the German several times on the trail and in teahouses, Saffron and I first sat down with him for lunch in the village of Bamboo. Linjon was a medical student. I first encountered him in the lodge at Suile, the night before the most beautiful moment of my life. It’s a testament to my preoccupied mental state at the time, that when I first heard him speak, I thought he was Irish.
We stumbled into Chhomrong exhausted, with our thighs burning.
We had just descended what felt like a thousand steep steps. My knees were creaking; Saffron was leaning on my trekking poles while gasping; Anker was sweaty but whistling cheerily. “We stop here,” he said, as we walked into Chhomrong.
Chhomrong was the biggest village we’d encountered since we left Ghorepani. You could probably even go so far as to call Chhomrong a town—at least by mountain standards.
The morning after I saw the rainbow, I awoke before sunrise.
I had gone to bed early—around eight— so this wasn’t much of a surprise.
I was still shaken from my experience the day before; filled with a sense of satisfaction. I rose quietly, doing my best to let Saffron sleep. I ventured outside to relieve myself. The only toilet was occupied, so I walked a little ways off the property, and peed on the trail. It felt good; felt refreshing in the chill morning air.
I walked back to the lodge as the morning sky was beginning to fill with light. It was a clear, brisk morning. The valley was beautiful, quiet and peaceful. You could see for miles. Far off, in the distance, the distinctive silhouette of of the Fishtail poked out of the horizon. Although the real name is Machupuchre, the mountain has acquired the English nickname “Fishtail” because of its obvious resemblance, from certain angles, to a fish’s tail.
In life, we remember moments.
We may spend long hours at our work, in the library studying for school, or pouring over our computers. But these are not the things we remember when we look back on our lives. All of that drudgery fades with time, and we are left with only a few, golden moments. A relationship that is stressful and ugly becomes, in memory: a flash of a her smile; a moonlit night under under the stars in a deep mountain canyon; a shooting star; his unexpected ‘I love you.’ These are what stick, not the long, shut-down stretches of black, or the quiet evenings spent in your own head.
Suile holds the most beautiful moment of my life.
Long after the rest of the journey, the rest of the relationship, the rest of the emotions have faded from my memory, I will remember this moment. I will remember it, in crystal clear detail, until the day I die.